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Creating Fake Ashes


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Currently working on a production which requires the use of fake ashes that are on stage as well as them being throw around! Currently looking at ways to do this, with sand being the safest way that we can think of right now but we know that this still has a hint of danger. The show is also an opera, so we would preferably like the ashes to not inhibit the casts ability too sing (this is a tough ask I know)


Is there anyway that anyone has used before that could/would be safer and better. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Hope to hear back soon,



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Pretend/mime must surely be an option? Or some sort of grey silk cloth if you need to "pour" them. Throwing any sort of medium around seems like unnecessary mess/risk! ?


Thank you for the reply!



Unfortunately the scene needs to be as real as possible (a little crazy I know) - Mess really isn't too much of an issue because it is at the end of the show, but would you have any idea potential of a safe way to make ashes (I completely understand this isn't an easy ask)!



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MSDS says fullers earth would be a bad option. I expect any fine particulate will present similar risks.


Potential Acute Health Effects:

Hazardous in case of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant).

Potential Chronic Health Effects:

Hazardous in case of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant).




Walnut dust - potential issue for people with nut allergies


Routes of Entry

Eyes, Inhalation

Health Hazards

Dust may cause mechanical injury to eyes. Avoid excession inhalation as

with all dust particles.



Signs and Symptoms of Exposure


Medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure

Nut allergies

Emergency and First Aid Procedures

Eyes: Flush eyes with water; mechanical injury only.

Inhalation: Remove victim to fresh air.

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Table salt? It's food grade but salt has been used in an infanticide.


It's probably fair to suggest that few people have ever seen human ashes, or fingered them to check the texture!


Beware MSDS! No manufacturer will ever write "no hazard" so they will always put "none known at this time" or "not on the California list of known or suspected ...." Ultimately everything is hazardous -people die from drowning but many more people live because they drink water.

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Although the OP hasn't stated it specifically we are assuming that the ashes are cremated remains.


I asked the question two years ago in this thread. We eventually used grey clay-based cat litter, which was very effective, didn't affect anyone's breathing but was tiresome to clear up as an urnful seemed to scatter a long way. It has variable particle sizes, which add to the effect (we didn't crush it). The dust doesn't seem to hang in the air. Buy a bag to test. Probably best to avoid scented versions!

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  • 3 weeks later...
Cremated remains are visually identical to horticultural bone meal (pretty much the same thing, different source!) - available from any garden centre. No idea what the risk implications would be, but it would at least give you an idea of what any alternatives should look like.
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